Technologies and practices for sustainable use and management of water in agriculture

With increasing water shortages in many parts of the world, the SWMCN Subprogramme aims at developing isotope based methodologies to measure and improve crop water productivity (more crops per drop). The Subprogramme is also developing appropriate land and water management practices and irrigation technology to improve water and nutrient use efficiency, mitigate land degradation and desertification, reduce water and nutrient wastage thus better environment.

Related Co-ordinated Research Projects

- Managing irrigation water to enhance crop productivity under water-limiting conditions: a role for isotopic techniques - D1.20.09

Success story

- More Crops per Drop and Better Environment - Drip irrigation and fertigation in Turkey1

The challenge

The Nigde-Nevsehir Region in Turkey accounts for more than 1/3 of Turkey's potato production. Sprinkler and basin irrigation systems have been used for potato growing in this region. The SWMCN Sub-programme has successfully implemented a series of TC projects aiming to improve water and nitrogen management in this region with the support of the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority-Ankara Nuclear Research Center in Ankara and partner institutions. Technologies and practices for sustainable use and management of water in agriculture

The project

Using stable isotope N15 labelled fertilizer and neutron probes, nitrogen (N) movement in soil-plant systems and available soil moisture content were monitored and managed.

Main findings

- The results showed that drip irrigation and fertigation system which targeted both water and fertilizers at the plant-rooting zone, was able to reduce 40-50% of the applied N and 60-65% of applied irrigation water without affecting the marketable tuber yield of approximately 35-36 metric tons per hectare.
- A 60 million dollar annual saving in terms of time, energy, labour inputs in irrigation and reduction in fertilizer applications would be attained if all farmers adopt drip irrigation and fertigation, while avoiding the contamination of ground waters with nitrate leaching. These findings have been communicated to Turkish farming community by the Turkish project counterparts through the Turkish Radio Television in 2000.
- The importance of drip irrigation-fertigation for potato growing in the Nigde-Nevsehir Region was recognized by the Turkish Government with an Act passed by the General Assembly on 14 November 2004, indicating that the Government can provide farmers in the region with a loan of a low interest rate to allow farmers to switch to drip irrigation-fertigation. As a result, the area under drip irrigation-fertigation had increased from 500 hectare in 2003 to 4000 ha in 2006.

1Turkish Atomic Energy Authority-Ankara Nuclear Research Center in Agriculture and Animal Sciences, Ankara (TAEA-ANRCAAS), Turkish Science and Technology Research Authority (TSTRA); , Nigde Potato Research Institute (MA-NPRI); Ankara University, Agricultural Faculty, Soil Science Department, Ankara (AUAFSSD), and the Soil and Fertilizer Research Institute (SFRI) in Ankara.